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Tenn. Supreme Court to hear arguments defending controversial school voucher program

Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 4:53 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear arguments about Tennessee’s controversial Education Savings Account, also known as school vouchers.

The program dates back to 2019 when it was passed by the state legislature.

The biggest question is whether or not the Education Savings Account Program is constitutional. Davidson and Shelby Counties both argued the program is not constitutional.

The ESA program would give more than $7,000 in state money to qualifying parents in Shelby and Davidson counties to help send students to private schools.

The scholarship would pay for tuition, textbooks and tutoring services. The program is available to families like a family of four whose annual income is less than $66,950.

Both counties sued over the program, saying it violated “Home Rule” protections because it only applies to the two counties.

In May 2020 a Tennessee judge ruled that the ESA program was unconstitutional.

Governor Bill Lee sent out a statement after the first ruling saying quote:

“We strongly disagree with the court’s ruling and will swiftly appeal on behalf of Tennessee students who deserve more than a one-size-fits-all approach to education.”

A few months later in September 2020, the Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision stating that the voucher program was unconstitutional.

The Institute for Justice will be defending the program in the Tennessee Supreme Court Thursday. Oral arguments on the constitutionality of the ESA will begin at 9 a.m.

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